In the seventeenth century artists did not buy their paints ready-made in tubes, they made them themselves. Artists would buy pigments – raw materials in the form of powder – from special vendors and bring them back to their workshop. There, they would mix the pigments with oil (most commonly linseed oil) on their pallet. By mixing their own paint, artists could determine the amount of paint they needed for the painting they were working on, thereby not wasting any pigments.
Rembrandt only used twelve pigments – raw materials in the form of powder – for most of his paintings. By varying the thickness, texture and transparency and colour juxtaposition of the paint layers, a whole range of effects could be achieved. In the auditorium of The Rembrandt House Museum you can find an overview of the pigments Rembrandt used, with their most important characteristics and properties.